The Mazda i-ACTIVSENSE safety features are almost endless
LAS so far is the most impressive safety feature for me, which is why I discussed it first. But that's only part of the safety magic that goes into the new CX-9. Below, I'll address all of the safety features one by one.
Adaptive LED Headlamps (ALH): ALH is an awesome feature which means you don't have to switch between high beam and regular lights at night. A camera on the windshield detects oncoming cars plus cars in front of you and automatically shuts off certain LEDs as to not blind or annoy other drivers. In short, it keeps as much of the road and surroundings as bright as possible.
Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM): BSM isn't new to the new CX-9, but it's probably still new to many drivers. BSM uses sensors to alert you when there is another vehicle in your blind spot, with an audio and visual alert (on the side mirror where the vehicle is) that it is not safe to move. Not only that, but BSM also detects vehicles at a distance behind you that are traveling at high speed. Personally, BSM is a nice feature, but I still find myself head checking in busy areas just to be on the safe side.
Driver Attention Alert (DAA): For those that take trips away from home, DAA is there to help you. Cameras and sensors monitor your driving at 65km/h (40mph) and over, and suggest rest breaks if the car determines you may be fatigued. I haven't personally been able to test this feature yet.
Braking, Traction, and Stability: All the features you'd expect to be present are there. You have ABS, EBD, and TCS. Mazda ups the ante in the braking department with Emergency Stop Signal (ESS) which is a system that identifies emergency braking and flashes the vehicle's lights rapidly to draw their attention that you are stopping suddenly. Emergency Brake Assist (EBA) monitors the force and speed at which the brake pedal is pushed and adds more pressure to the brakes in anticipation of emergency stopping. The car will also automatically stop/slow down during various driving environments, and I'll cover that in its own section shortly (because it deserves its own section)
The 2016 CX-9 features Traction Control System (TCS) as you would expect from all modern cars, but it also adds in Trailer Stability Assist (TSA), which is a system designed to detect trailer or caravan swaying; while unable to test, the car is said to be able to make corrections itself to reduce or stop the swaying.
Being an SUV, it's a nice thing that Roll Stability Control (RSC) is included. Similar in a way to how TSA works, the car can detect that it may roll, and make various steering and braking or acceleration movements to reduce the chance of the car rolling or to stop the car from rolling over.
Smart City Brake Support (Forward and Reverse): How would you like a car that brakes for you? You got it. Thanks to Mazda's SCBS technology, when you are moving forward at speeds of 4km/h to 30km/h (2.5mph to 19mph), the car monitors any vehicles in front, and if the car thinks you are going to hit it, the brakes are automatically primed for you, and if you don't brake, SCBS will stop for you. The same applies in reverse when at speeds of 2km/h to 8 km/h (1.25mph to 5mph), saving you from pulling out of your park and hitting another car.
Additionally, the new 2016 CX-9 features Smart Brake Support (SBS). It's the same story here. When traveling at speeds between 15km/h to 145km/h (9mph to 90mph), if the car thinks you are going to rear-end a vehicle in front of you, it will prime the brakes and await your response. If you do not respond, the car will brake for you. I haven't tried any of the above braking technology myself, and don't particularly want to, but it is very nice to know it's there.
Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA): RCTA is another awesome feature which I firmly believe all cars should include. Not new to the 2016 CX-9, RCTA is a brilliant feature for making reversing a total breeze. The scene: you're in a busy carpark, you just got your shopping, and you just want to go home and relax. In my old CX-9 and this CX-9, I have total confidence in RCTA, to the point that I feel confident enough to not even check for cars that may be passing behind me. Just put the car in reverse, start to pull out a little bit (of course first checking your immediate surroundings and rear camera for smaller objects such as people), and if there is a vehicle that prevents you from reversing safely, you'll hear an audible sound as well as flashing lights. No sound or flashing lights? You're good to go - it is as simple as that.
Radar Cruise Control (MRCC): I think it's safe to say most of us would have been on at least one long drive in their lifetime. MRCC is incredible. This system once again uses the car's cameras and sensors when in cruise control to automatically adjust speeds in relation to the vehicle in front of you. After going into cruise control, you can set the distance you want to keep from the car in front from close to far (there are four distance options). If you are getting too close to the car in front of you based on your selected distance setting, the car slows down, and likewise, if the car in front of you speeds up, your car also speeds up, of course up to your chosen cruise control speed.
And while I'm on cruise control speed, I was happy to see that you can set the exact speed you want. For example, if you engage cruise control at 97km/h (60mph), just tap up once, and it will set the speed to 100km/h (62mph). For speeds below 60km/h (37mph), you can set in 1km/h (0.6mph) increments, yet another nice touch.
MRCC is a little more advanced than it sounds, though. A couple of times with MRCC enabled, the car slowed down from 100km/h (62mph) to around 65km/h (40mph) when other cars were getting off the road I was on. Another time I gave faith to MRCC and let it completely control the slow down and speed up process - of course with my foot on the ready at the brake pedal. The car in front and I were both driving at a consistent 90km/h (56mph) and the car in front slowed down to around 40km/h (25mph) and shortly after got back up to speed.
Sure enough, the CX-9 handled it just fine - at first there was a fair amount of brake force applied to slow down to around 60km/h (37mph), and then more subtle braking to get down to around 45km/h (28mph), and then the gas was hit to get back up to 90km/h (56mph) at what I would say was a suitable pace. Meanwhile, I still had my hands-on the wheel, but both my feet were comfortable, without movement, all while happening to my amazement and enjoyment.
Hill Launch Assist (HLA): HLA is new to the 2016 CX-9, and while not a new feature among many other cars, it's certainly a welcome addition. When on a hill, the car holds the brakes until there is enough forward movement force to take off, without the car moving backward.
Parking Sensors and Reverse Camera: Standard pretty much across all new cars these days are rear parking sensors, but the CX-9 Azami (and GT) also gets front parking sensors. While I question the need for them, they are there and may come in handy in tricky spots.
What interested me more were the side sensors. At the end of a recent drive, I drove close to the right side of our driveway to allow another car to leave our garage easily. On that right side is a large palm pot plant - I was alerted to it being there by way of the right side of the car displaying a red bar, indicating to me to be careful. And this wasn't right at the front of the car; it was around 40cm (16 inches) or so back towards the driver on the right side of the car.
As you can see in the shot above, the rear parking camera generates a very good view of what's behind you on the brilliant 8-inch MZD Connect display.
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